MoveOn's Presidential Primary: The left-leaning website MoveOn.org is holding an online "Democratic presidential primary" beginning June 24. The group says that if a majority of its 1.4 million registered members votes for any particular candidate, he or she will get MoveOn.org's endorsement, which could be a grassroots and fundraising boon.
MoveOn.org, started in 1998 as a way for liberals to complain about the Clinton impeachment, has morphed into a one-site-fits-all liberal forum on a variety of issues, most recently opposition to the war in Iraq.
The group says the Internet primary will "allow hundreds of thousands of voters to speak out now, adding their weight to the campaigns of their choice." Additionally, the group also said in an e-mail that part of its motivation to hold the event so early in the process is to give a financial boost to the winning candidate, should one get more than 50 percent, from member contributions.
MoveOn.org's backing would be a good pick-up for any of the candidates. In addition to its extensive online activities, the group has a political action committee that it describes as "committed to supporting candidates for Congress who are committed to acting in the broad interest of the American public, and who will oppose reckless policy supported by monied special interests." (The PAC gave away more than $4 million to candidates last year.) In addition, the group ran several high-profile, anti-war television ads, featuring stars like Martin Sheen and Susan Sarandon, earlier this year.
Voting begins at 12:00 a.m. next Tuesday and ends Wednesday at 11:59 p.m. "Voters" must register to cast their ballots.
Writing in the Washington Post, columnist Harold Meyerson says that Howard Dean, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, have been leading in preliminary polling of MoveOn members.
Dean is sure to be a contender in the voting for two reasons. First, he has been one of the most anti-war of the candidates and opposition to the war has been a centerpiece of MoveOn's activities. Second, Dean's campaign considers the Internet a focal point of its strategy. He has been the most successful of the wannabes in terms of raising money online – more than $1.25 million so far - and has actively encouraged and exploited his 34,000 supporters on the Web site Meetup.com.
Despite being one of the most pro-war of all the candidates, Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut is also trying to rally support for the MoveOn vote. In an e-mail received by CBS News, the campaign urges supporters to sign up and vote for Lieberman. The campaign even praises MoveOn as an "online organization dedicated to giving citizens a greater voice in politics."
It could be difficult for any candidate to get the required majority, Meyerson writes. But, if none of the candidates manages to do so, MoveOn will hold another online primary in a few months.
Recalling Gray: Three top California Democrats have pulled their names out of the heated controversy surrounding the possible recall election that threatens Gov. Gray Davis. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Attorney General Bill Lockyer, state Treasurer Phil Angelides, and Controller Steve Westly announced Tuesday that they would not appear on a recall ballot, calling the campaign a "threat to democracy."
For the past few weeks, California politics have been in an upheaval, but now with a total of 800,000 signatures, it looks as if Republicans will gather the 900,000 valid signatures needed before the Sept. 2 deadline. If they succeed, Westly said he absolutely would not run, while Lockyer and Angelides all but closed the door, saying they did not "intend" to enter the recall election.
"Nothing could be more threatening to the value of our votes and the future of majority rule in California," Lockyer told the Chronicle, "than the overthrow of elected government by a sliver of the electorate."
Democrats expect to see Lockyer and Angelides in the 2006 gubernatorial primary since they both have $10 million campaign war chests. Westly, a millionaire, is also expected to be a strong 2006 candidate. But for now, Tuesday's announcements leave Democrats with two high ranking elected officials, Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante and Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Both publicly denounced the recall effort, but have not ruled out the possibility of appearing on the ballot.
Bustamante has had a rocky relationship with Davis, and it's long been speculated that Feinstein dreams of being governor. Political pundits have speculated that they might cut a deal and whereby Feinstein could run for governor and appoint Bustamante to complete her Senate term.
Another name in the mix is Condoleezza Rice, President Bush's national security adviser. She says she's got her hands full right now but hasn't ruled out running in the future. Rice's friends suggest that she would be the perfect Republican candidate. As a minority woman, a social moderate and a former Democrat, Rice could capture independent and Democratic voters for California Republicans.
What A Card: White House Chief of Staff Andy Card was the latest Bush administration figure to find his way to New Hampshire. PoliticsNH.com reports Card was in the state Tuesday to receive an award from the Boy Scouts and took the opportunity to talk to Republican activists in Concord about the Bush re-election campaign.
Card, a Massachusetts native, had been in New Hampshire in February as the keynote speaker at the Lincoln Day Dinner in Portsmouth. Lynne Cheney visited the state last week, while Karl Rove, Attorney General John Ashcroft, Secretary of Education Rod Paige and outgoing EPA Administrator Christie Todd Whitman have all been there this year. PoliticsNH.com reports that Card said he'd be back again when the campaign gets in full swing.
New Hampshire is a dicey state for the Bushes. Card was there for Bush '41 from March '87 to April '88. Bush 43's loss to Sen. John McCain in the GOP primary in 2000 is still on their minds. "They put people through the meat grinder and they test them," Card said. "I think the testing helps make them better presidents. I know President Bush benefited by being tested in New Hampshire."
The Bush camp is also looking at New Hampshire's four electoral votes, which they barely won in 2000, as ones that they could lose in 2004, especially if the Democrats nominate one of the New England candidates. And they know the national press will be swarming all over the state covering the Democratic primary and will want to see how Granite State voters feel about the Bush administration.
Breaking A Barrier: Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., introduced a new Senate chaplain Tuesday. He's Adm. Barry C. Black, the first African-American to hold the post.
"I look forward to this great opportunity and challenge and I am grateful to the Senators already, because they certainly have made me feel at home," Black said.
The 53-year-old Black, who is currently the chief Navy chaplain – and the first African-American to hold that post as well - is expected to officially become the 62nd Senate chaplain in the next week or two, replacing the retiring Rev. Lloyd Ogilvie. He said he'll retire from the Navy in the next "few days" adding, "I will not be holding two jobs at the same time."
When asked what differences he expected between being the Navy and the Senate, Black said, "Obviously the ages of the people I will be dealing with will be a little different."
Black is the first Seventh-Day Adventist to hold a chaplain's post in either the House or Senate. Since 1789, there have been 119 Protestants and two Catholics who served as chaplain of the House or Senate.
A bipartisan Senate committee appointed by the majority leader selected Black for the nonpartisan and nonsectarian job that consists of opening the Senate every day with a prayer and providing religious for Senators and their families. The full Senate is expected to confirm Black for the $130,000-a-year post before the Fourth of July recess.
As Republicans try to patch up relations African-Americans, especially in the light of ousted Majority Leader Trent Lott's remarks last December, Frist adamantly denied that he was trying to make a statement with the selection of Black.
"Absolutely not," Frist told reporters Tuesday, adding that the bipartisan committee gave him a several candidates to choose from and he was "delighted, based on my review and personal discussion … to choose Admiral Black."
Quote of the Day: "I can close that door and close it shut." – HUD Secretary Mel Martinez, on his decision not to run for the U.S. Senate from Florida in 2004. Martinez, the former chief executive of Orlando, had been wooed as a possible challenger for the seat currently held by Democratic presidential hopeful Bob Graham. (Miami Herald)